Posted on January 31, 2011 by backer35
“Vegetarian is the New Prius” by Kathy Freston, is an article about the amount of contribution livestock actually plays in the most serious environmental problem, at every scale from local to global. This article states that the amount of livestock raised on our land is the primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and most of all, global warming. This article attempts to convince readers to become vegetarians, so less livestock is needed to feed the people. The article provides good solid facts about the issues caused by the amount of livestock slaughtered and consumed by humans, but does not really cover the opposing argument. I personally disagree with the author of this article, just for the simple fact that my family eats a large amount of meat and livestock. I feel that no matter what there will be livestock whether people become vegetarians or not, there may not be as much but there will always be livestock none the less.
Researchers at the University of Chicago noted that feeding animals for the production of meat, eggs, and dairy products requires growing upwards of ten times as many crops needed than if we just went without. According to a report done by the United Nations animal agriculture takes up 70% of all agricultural land, and 30% of the total land surface of the planet. After being presented with these interesting, and disturbing facts I still feel that people will never completely convert to being vegetarians and even if they do there will still be millions of wild animals producing all the same gasses.
Filed under: Climate change, Food, Reading Response, Spring 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 31, 2011 by tckohlhorst
Occasionally we come across and movie, book, or experience that rocks us to our core. The documentary Food Inc. not only has to power to do just that, but also has to potential to turn the most dedicated meat-eater into a vegetarian. Has our food industry grown out of control? If the accusations in the documentary are true, the food industry looks more like a food mafia, than a business industry. The documentary is filled with tales of cruelty from animal abuse to worker abuse. In many ways it almost sounds as though it could be the sequel to Sinclair’s The Jungle. The food industry has become powerful with teams of lawyers, and many of the company’s associates filling seats in controlling political positions. Many feel that the food industry seems to be holding all the cards, and strong arming others to play by their rules; it’s no wonder so many feel as though they are unstoppable.
Remember though, there was a time when many felt that the tobacco industry was unstoppable too. The food industry may not be able to be beaten in the courtroom like the tobacco company, but they can be beaten at the registers. By the end of the movie the viewer is left feeling empowered knowing that they do have a choice, and they can make a difference. After all, the consumers are the ones that truly drive the market. Consumers decide what we they want and there is big business in supplying it for them. Even giants like Wal-mart are beginning to sell organics to supply customer’s demands.
Filed under: Food, Reading Response, Spring 2011 | Tagged: Food, Spring 2011, Video Response | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 31, 2011 by tckohlhorst
The website, Earth911.com, reaches beyond teaching its visitors how to recycle. At the top of the website is a recycling center locator. This is not just a listing of places that recycle items, it’s has a search section that allows visitors to look up exactly what they want to recycle. Additionally, the locator has a convenient feature that povides mapping information, phone numbers, addresses, and even curbside drop off sites.
Beyond the locator, there are many articles discussing environmental topics. These articles have comment sections allowing for more in-depth dialog. Furthermore, there are multiple links to other environmental friendly sites. These sites offer additional information and tips, for instance, organizational fundraiser opportunities involving recycling. Many of the sites visited had the Better Business Bureau stamp of approval on their pages. Earth911.com, and many of its linked sites, can be followed on Facebook and Twitter with weekly newsletters to keep visitors informed about current issues.
Overall, Earth911.com is a website designed to educate and assist those seeking to lower their carbon footprint, and live in a more sustainable lifestyle. With easy to find recycle centers and tips on how to live green, Earth911.com takes the stress out of wasting less. Earth911.com has something to offer both those that are new to recycling and the seasoned veterans as well. I highly recommend visiting and bookmarking Earth911.com.
Filed under: Reading Response, Recycling, Spring 2011, Sustainability | Tagged: environment, Recycling, Spring 2011, Sustainability, Website Response | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 30, 2011 by spbond
“Electric Bugaboo” by Tim Dickinson presents the fight over renewable energy development, and attempts to convince the reader that large-scale renewable energy projects are not something that we should be resisting. Although both sides have good points, I personally agree with the author because the corporations involved are environmentally conscious, are willing to work with the environmentalist organizations, and because we need to reduce our oil dependency.
On the one side, environmentalists are fighting the development of large projects. These environmentalists believe that the projects will disturb migratory routes, encroach on habitats, or disturb traditional lands.
On the other side, proponents believe that these projects are a good thing. They argue that without them, we will never reduce our dependency on oil products by an appreciable amount. The author also points out that the CEO’s behind these projects are trying to preserve the environment, and are willing to work with the environmentalist organizations to accomplish that.
According to the author some of the CEO’s behind the projects have environmentally friendly mindsets. They are looking for solutions to our current environmental conditions. They believe that they can reduce our dependency on oil without a significant environmental impact.
He also points out the fact that the corporations are frequently working with some of the environmentalist organizations to minimize their impact.
Finally, the author maintains that the projects are a good thing, because the threat of global warming is much greater than the environmental impact that these projects would have.
The author seems to be very knowledgeable on the subject matter and presents a well thought argument with plenty of supporting information.
Filed under: Energy, Reading Response, Spring 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 30, 2011 by spbond
Although the Sundance Channel’s series “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” aims to educate the public on environmental efforts, they are not as effective as they could be, because they don’t cover a broad enough scope, and they spent very little time on potential problems.
This is a neat little series on the Sundance Channel which aims to educate the public on environmental efforts. It seems to me that they did not effectively cover the scope of their topics. I realize that they have a limited episode length, but if their intent was to educate the public, then perhaps they would have been better served by covering more aspects of a topic in less depth. In the fuel episode as an example, they only covered fry oil and biofuels. They covered them in great detail, but someone coming away from this episode may think that those are the only options. They could also have covered the efforts to produce 200 and 300 mpg vehicles, hydrogen powered vehicles, and the advances in electric vehicles. There may be others I don’t know about. People can always find more information if they don’t feel like it was covered in great enough depth, but they need to know what to look for.
Also, aside from a brief comment on how minor of an impact alternative fuels have, they did not really cover the problems which may be encountered in the episodes I watched. Some things are impractical to implement in most cases, such as geothermal heating, because there may not be access to the necessary resources. There may be shortages in the sources of alternative energy, costs may be prohibitive, and it may ultimately have a relatively tiny impact on a global scale. Also, no one ever talks about the effect that these green technologies themselves may have on the environment by altering the natural state of things like water and wind currents.
Filed under: Conservation, Energy, Fall 2010, Reading Response, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 30, 2011 by tckohlhorst
According to Kathy Freston the author of the article “Vegetarian is the New Prius,” chickens, or livestock in general, produce a far greater impact on the environment than automobiles. Freston stated that this information comes from a United Nations report on livestock, and suggests that livestock is a leading cause for many environmental problems including global warming. Freston also believes that going vegetarian will solve many of these problems.
Though I agree that Americans are in need of a diet change due to obesity and overconsumption, switching to an all vegetarian diet will not fix the problem, it will only change it. For instance, according to Freston, one benefit to going vegetarian is that there would be less demand for animal agriculture. However, I feel that this benefit would be quickly offset by the increased demand for agriculture needed to be produced for human consumption. Additionally, Freston stated that there would be less animal waste, which would reduce the methane in the environment. I do agree that we have too much fertilizer due to the overproduction of animals causing many environmental problems. However this is where the problem doesn’t get fixed with such an extreme measure as eliminating meat from the American diet; the increased demand for crops would yield a great strain on the soil, so much so that additional fertilizer would be needed to yield the most crops per acre of land. Additionally, like meat our vegetables would begin to lose some health benefits, to make way for faster growing genetically modified strains. These less healthy strains would be needed as the healthier organic crops would not be able to supply the increased demand.
Ultimately, there is no one thing causing all of our problems in the environment as everything is interconnected. Therefore there is no one solution that will fix everything either. I believe that working towards finding a sustainable balance in general, instead of going to extremes, will yield the greatest benefit in the end.
Filed under: Climate change, Food, Reading Response, Spring 2011, Sustainability | Tagged: Environmet, Reading Response, Spring 2011, Sustainability | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 29, 2011 by David Apperson
The community described in Alan Weisman’s article Nothing Wasted, Everything Gained is a picture of a place I did not think could exist. Gaviotas, Colombia is a self sustaining modern community. Children’s see-saws pull water up from aquifers, power from windmills heats drinking water which is sterilized in solar stills, and a Honduran Pine forest supports the local economy.
The village of 200 artists, scientists, peasants, engineers, and former street kids was founded by Paolo Lugari in 1971 and has been called a model for sustainable development by the United Nations. According to Weisman’s article there are “no police or politicians” but I wonder if there are none because crime and disorganization actually do not exist or because the village is small enough to innately governs itself. Clearly Gaviotas is an extraordinary place, it is a habitable microcosm in the center of a relatively barren land. The planted pine forest has allowed native plants to take root and grow where they once did centuries ago. But, can the model be replicated across the globe? Obviously the moral of the story is to live from what can be grown naturally and organically and only take what one needs but the small community of 200 is supported by a large 25,000 acre forest. It seems obvious to me that a sustainable community can grow and thrive in a warm environment with plenty of space to cultivate and support itself. Perhaps it would be more difficult for me to start a self-sustaining community in interior Alaska where the growing season is intense but brief, and the sun shines with little power over short days in the long winter. The Gaviotans of course are continuing to do a fantastic job of living with what they produce and grow themselves but what would happen if the small community grew quickly, like many civilized populations? Can the forest grow fast enough to support the human population? Will there still be no need for police when the populace becomes a collection of strangers and not neighbors? I think this place is fantastic but am critical of even a modest proportion of Earth’s human population being able to duplicate Gaviotas results. I doubt that large cities with awesome solar energy potential such as Las Vegas or Phoenix can even come close to Gaviotas ability to subsist although they have an incredible vault of resources.
Filed under: Energy, Gardening, Population, Reading Response, Spring 2011, Sustainability | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 29, 2011 by tckohlhorst
Initially, low-cost foods appear to cost less, but with the current practices of the food industries, our environment and the living creatures on it are paying a hefty price. In industrialized nations the bottom line tends to focus more on the dollar than anything else. It was evident during the initial years of development with examples from Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, and is still present today with example from the documentary A Fast Food Nation.
We get another glance at the food industry with Bryan Walsh’s article titled “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food.” Walsh points out that in some ways things have gotten better, and in some ways they have gotten worse. Walsh also stated that, “Unless Americans radically rethink the way they grow food they face a future of eroded farmland, hollowed-out countryside, scarier germs, higher health costs and bland taste.” I couldn’t agree more that we need to make changes in the way we eat and grow food. However, I also feel that these changes are not enough.
With both the steady population growth and an increase in industrialization, the demand for cheap meat will increase beyond the ability to provide for it sustainably, if it hasn’t already. In addition to eating and growing more sustainably, people need to turn their focus to living more sustainably. One way to accomplish this is a move towards population growth, and to help prevent the developing nations from making the same mistakes as the industrialized nations. In order to achieve the goal of creating a healthy environment with a healthy population we need to focus on living simply to improve the environment and quality of life for all.
Filed under: Food, Reading Response, Spring 2011, Sustainability | Tagged: Agriculture and Environment, Reading Response, Spring 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 27, 2011 by tckohlhorst
Going green has gained the support of many people to help combat the effects of climate change. One would think that every environmentalist would be on board. However, some of the projects are getting too big, causing some environmentalists to resist. They feel that development is harmful, and thus unacceptable regardless of its color label.
Tim Dickson addressed the resistance some of the green developers face from the conservationists in his article titled “Electric Bugaboo.” On one side of the issue, you have the conservationists who have been fighting to prevent development of the lands for centuries. They do not feel that developments are acceptable, even when they’re labeled green. On the other side, the developers are going to great lengths to pick locations that would cause the least amount of impact on the environment. Additionally, the developers feel that the conservationists are missing the big picture, that doing nothing will cause far more harm for the environment.
I agree with the developers that doing nothing would have a far greater impact against the environment than the development itself. However, I am concerned that some issues have not been addressed. For example, it’s not uncommon for the implementation of a new technology to have unintended consequences. Just as the use of fossil fuels had the unintended consequence of climate change, renewable energy might have one as well. Before I could fully support such a development, I would like to see data on the long-term effects of implementing the renewable energy program. For instance, the solar panels will not last forever, what would be the impact of their disposal in mass quantities?
Filed under: Energy, Reading Response, Spring 2011 | Tagged: Energy, Response, Spring 2011 | 2 Comments »